Title: The Exaltation of Christ
Text: Hebrews 10:12-13
Date: Sunday Morning – October 26, 1986
Let me give you five pictures of Christ, as he is revealed in Holy Scripture, which form the basis of my soul’s hope, comfort, and expectation before God. I have hope of eternal life, I expect to stand accepted before God forever, not because of anything I have done, not because of anything I have experienced, and not because of anything I have felt, but because of what Christ has done for me in these five things.
1. I have hope before God because Christ stood as my Surety in the covenant of grace before the world began.
By his own oath, from which he will not repent, the Lord Jesus Christ was made “a Surety of a better testament,” Surety of a better covenant, in the eternal councils of the Triune God (Heb. 7:22; Gen. 43:8-9; Job 33:24). In that covenant, Christ agreed to satisfy the law and justice of God for his people and bring all the hosts of God’s elect safe into glory. God the Father entrusted his elect people into the hands of his Son as a Surety. And Christ’s suretyship engagements will not be finished until all that the Father gave him have come to him, and he has raised them up at the last day, presented them to the Father, and said, “Behold, I and the children which God hath given me.” See John 6:37-40; 10:16; Heb. 2:13).
2. The fact that Christ came into this world as a man gives me hope as well (Matt. 1:21).
Immanuel, God with us, God in our nature, is God come to save. The Son of God would not have become one of us were it not his purpose to show us mercy. “For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). This is good news indeed: “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
3. I have hope before God because Christ obeyed the law of God as my representative.
Though I am a sinner, without any ability to produce righteousness, I have hope before God who cannot accept anything less than perfect righteousness. My hope is “The Lord our Righteousness” (Jer. 23:6). Christ lived in this world in perfect obedience to God as our Representative and brought in an everlasting righteousness. It is this righteousness, the righteous obedience of Christ, which God imputes to all who believe (Rom. 5:19).
But before righteousness could be lawfully imputed to me, my sins had to be both atoned for and put away, so ---
4. I have hope before God because The Lord Jesus Christ died as my Substitute under the penalty of God’s holy law (Rom. 3:24-26; 2 Cor. 5:21).
My God, by a marvelously legal but gracious transfer, transferred my sin to Christ and punished him for my sin and then transferred Christ’s righteousness to me and rewards me for his righteousness. Christ became what we were, so that we might forever be what he is. Christ stood in our place, so that we might forever stand in his place. Christ died, the just for the unjust, so that we might live forever. And now God is faithful and just to forgive the sins of all who confess their sins, believing on the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9).
5. And I have hope before God because This Christ, who lived and died as the sinner’s Substitute, arose from the grave, ascended back into heaven, and has been exalted as King over the universe.
Christ, “when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). The fact that he arose from the grave assures us that Christ has completely satisfied the law’s claim against our sins. The fact that he ascended back into heaven assures us that he is accepted of God as the Representative of his people. And the fact that he is enthroned as King over all things assures us that “he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (Heb. 7:25).
I am confident that Christ has done all of this for me, as my surety, my Representative, my Substitute, because I honestly acknowledge my sin before God and trust him alone as my Lord and Savior. My faith does not save me. Only Christ can save. But my faith gives me a confident hope that I have been saved by the grace of God through the righteousness and shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 5:10-13).
Now, I want, by the power of God, to persuade you to let go of every vain self-confidence, and trust Christ as your only, all-sufficient Savior. And I want to give you who believe a message that will inspire your confidence in Christ, your love for Christ, and your worship of Christ. I know of no better way to do that than to set before you The Exaltation of Christ. The apostle Paul describes Christ’s glorious exaltation in Hebrews 10:12-13. The priests of Israel, like the pretentious priests of Rome today, stood and offered everyday the same sacrifices, which could never take away sins. “But this man (the God-man, our Savior), after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.”
In this chapter Paul is showing us the superiority of Christ over the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament. Those priests under the law were many; Christ is one High Priest over the house of God forever. They offered many sacrifices; Christ made one sacrifice. They offered their sacrifices often, everyday; Christ offered himself once. They stood ministering in the holy place; Christ sat down. Their sacrifices could never take away sins; Christ by his one great sacrifice “hath perfected forever them that are sanctified,” having put away all our sins.
Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain,
Could give the guilty conscience peace,
Or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the heavenly Lamb,
Takes all our sins away;
A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.
Christ, who redeemed us by his blood, reigns in heaven to save us by the power of his grace.
1. The Expiation of our sins.
2. The exaltation of our sins.
3. The expectation of our sovereign.
I. First, Paul assures us of the expiation of our sins.
Christ’s work of redemption is done. His atonement is complete. The sins, which he bore in his body on the tree, have been fully purged away, completely atoned for, and entirely removed. All that Christ came to do he has completely done. The priests of Israel could never sit down, because their work was never done, their sacrifices could never take away sin. “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God.” Here is proof positive that the work of redemption is done, completely and perfectly done: Christ is sitting at the Father’s right hand.
1. Sitting down is a posture of rest.
A man does not rest until his work is finished. Christ came to do his Father’s will, “By the which will we are sanctified;” and he would not rest until he had completely and perfectly done his Father’s will. Christ’s sitting in heaven is our assurance that everything required for the salvation of all his people is done (Rom. 8:34).
1. Righteousness has been established.
2. Atonement has been made.
3. Sin has been put away.
4. God’s elect have been perfected (Heb. 10:10, 14).
5. Christ’s sitting at God’s right hand also implies that he enjoys great pleasure.
The Psalmist, when he spoke of Christ’s exaltation, wrote, “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11).
The highest joy and pleasure of our Savior is the salvation of his people. Our salvation was the joy set before him, for which he endured the cross, despising the shame (Heb. 12:2). How could he enjoy pleasure, if his people were in jeopardy? How could he have any joy, if he had not secured the salvation of every lamb of his flock? If he had not rendered the eternal salvation of every blood-bought soul as secure as his own throne, he would have no pleasure. There is a smile of pleasure upon our Redeemer’s face, as he sits in glory, because all his ransomed ones are perfectly safe.
6. Not only is Christ seated, in the posture of rest and at the place of pleasure; but Paul tells us that, he “forever sat down on the right hand of God!”
Christ, as our Surety, has undertaken to save all of God’s elect. It was for this cause that he came into the world. He has sworn to bring all the elect to glory and present them perfect, without blemish, without fault, holy before his Father. If that is not already secured as the result of his finished work, then he would be obliged at some point to get up off his seat and go to work again. But Paul gives us this word of assurance: Christ has so thoroughly redeemed us that he forever sat down. He will never have to leave his throne, because he finished the work he came to do.
7. Here is another proof that our sins are completely expiated by Christ – He is seated on the right hand of God.
The very fact that Christ is in heaven, accepted by God as our substitute, is proof that his work is done and that, as the result of his finished work, God has no quarrel with us.
Illustration: As long as the United States has an ambassador
in Moscow, there is peace between the U.S. and the
U.S.S.R. And as long as Christ our Savior is at the
Father’s right hand, we may be assured that there is
peace between his people and God.
Since Christ is seated in heaven forever, may we not assume that our peace with God can never cease, and that the atonement for sin is both complete and effectual? God made Christ to be sin for us, and as a sinner, he could not enter heaven until he had washed all our sins away in the fountain of his own precious blood. This Man, being our Substitute, could not enter heaven without two things: Perfect Righteousness and complete satisfaction. But, inasmuch as he is seated on the right hand of God forever, we cannot question this fact – Redemption is done!
‘Tis done, the great transaction is done,
Christ died and did for sin atone:
An everlasting righteousness,
Which Christ brought in, this is our dress.
II. Secondly, having completely put away our sins by his one great atoning sacrifice, Paul tells us of The exaltation of our Savior. “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God.”
Of course, I am talking now about Christ the Man, our Mediator and Substitute. As God, Christ was always on the Father’s throne. Even when he was upon earth, he was in heaven. The Son of God did not cease to be omnipotent and omnipresent, even when he was wrapped up in human flesh. Insofar as his divinity is concerned, our Lord never left his Father’s throne. He who is everywhere present cannot be anywhere absent. Our Lord himself said to Nicodemus, “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, event the Son of man which is (at this very time) in heaven” (John 3:13). But Christ, as the Man-God, has assumed the glories and honors of heavenly exaltation. This Man, who died as the sinner’s Substitute reigns as the sinner’s God on the right hand of the glorious Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The Man Christ Jesus is exalted to the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Let me tell you four things about the exaltation of our blessed Savior.
a. It is a pre-eminent exaltation.
God the Father has ordained, “that in all things Christ might have the pre-eminence” (Col. 1:18). And he has given him the place of pre-eminence. God has crowned him with glory and honor above all the works of his hands. God has exalted Christ “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:121-23). The dignity, which Christ now enjoys, is a surpassing dignity. No angel rivals him. No creature can compare with him. Christ is pre-eminent in all things. And Christ is pre-eminent above all things. Christ is ---
1. The Pre-eminent Prophet!
2. The Pre-eminent Priest!
3. The Pre-eminent King!
4. The Pre-eminent Sacrifice!
5. The Pre-eminent Savior!
6. The Pre-eminent Brother!
7. The Pre-eminent Friend!
8. The Pre-eminent Husband!
B. It is a real exaltation (Acts 2:33-36).
A good many men seek empty, meaningless titles, titles which give them a name, but no power or authority (Lord So Fine – Doctor Doodley-squat – Rev. Tweedle, D.D.). Christ does not wear a meaningless title. He wears a name that is above every name, and he has power above all power (John 17:2). The scepter of universal monarchy is in his hand (Rom. 14:9).
1. He upholds all things by the word of his power.
2. He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him.
3. He is able to work all things together for the good of his own elect.
4. He is able to subdue all things unto himself.
5. He is able to preserve his own and to present you faultless before the presence of his own glory.
C. It is a deserved exaltation (Phil. 2:5-11).
If God should put it to a vote, as to whether Christ should be exalted, it would be carried by universal acclamation. All would shout –
Crown Him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon His throne!
Hark how the heav’nly anthems drown
All music but its own!
1. All the holy angels would acknowledge Christ’s right to be exalted (Isa. 6:2-3).
2. All the saints in Heaven acknowledge Christ’s right to be exalted (Rev. 4:10-11; 5:9-10).
3. Every believer upon the earth would have Christ exalted (Col. 3:11; 1 Pet. 2:7).
4. Every creature of God will in time acknowledge Christ’s right to be exalted (Rev. 5:11-14).
5. No other being in heaven deserves to be there but Christ.
a. The angels are kept in heaven by grace.
b. The saints enter heaven by grace.
c. Only Christ is in heaven by right.
D. Do you see these things? Christ’s exaltation is a pre-eminent exaltation, a real exaltation, and a deserved exaltation. Now be sure you do not miss this blessed fact – It is a representative exaltation (Heb. 6:20; Eph. 2:5-6).
Just as you and I have a representative in the houses of congress, every true believer has a Representative before God in heaven. Yet, Christ is more to us than a legal Representative, he is also a real Representative, because we are really and truly one with him. He is the Vine. We are the branches. He is the Head. We are his body. We are one with Christ!
One when He died, one when He arose,
One when He triumphed o’er His foes.
One when in heaven He took His seat,
And angels sang all hell’s defeat.
1. Is Christ on a throne? He will give us to sit on the throne with him.
2. Does Christ wear a crown? He will give us a crown that fadeth not away.
3. Is Christ triumphant? He will make us triumphant too.
Child of God, set your heart’s eye upon your exalted Savior. Behold him there in glory, with many crowns upon his head. And remember this – You will soon be like him! Let us be content now to live in obscurity or even in banishment for Christ’s sake. Soon we shall wear the crown of glory!
III. I must quickly show you one more things in our text. Paul has shown us the expiation of our sin and the exaltation of our Savior. And in verse 13, he shows us The expectation of our Sovereign.
Christ our Savior, who redeemed us and saved us, has been exalted to the throne of sovereign dominion. And he reigns upon that throne of universal monarchy, “From henceforth expecting till his enemies has been made his footstool.” Every foe of Christ shall become his servant and his footstool (Isa. 45:22-25).
1. In one sense this crushing of his enemies into subjection beneath his feet has already begun.
Christ is the sovereign ruler of the universe; and all rational beings, either willingly or unwillingly, are his servants (2 Pet. 2:1). He has power over all flesh.
a. Satan himself is Christ’s slave, beaten into subjection (John 12:31).
b. Wicked men are the servants of Christ, the errand boys of his providential rule.
2. Many of Christ’s enemies are conquered by his grace through the preaching of the gospel (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
Illustration: Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9).
3. When Christ comes the second time, he will come to crush all rebellion.
The second advent will not be a time of salvation, but of judgment upon all unbelievers. “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel” (2 Thess. 1:8-9).
4. At last, in the day of judgment, every enemy shall bow to Christ as Lord.
At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess, in heaven, earth, and hell, that Jesus Chris is Lord. And God shall be all in all.
In the end, because Christ is exalted, I am sure that ---
1. All who believe shall be saved.
2. Every enemy of Christ shall be destroyed.
3. All of God’s elect shall be saved (Rom. 11:26).
4. Christ shall be triumphant and glorious (Rev. 19:6).